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date: 20 January 2020

Yu Zhenfeilocked

  • Colin Mackerras

Extract

(b Suzhou, 1902; d 1992). Chinese Kunqu opera performer. Undoubtedly the 20th century’s most distinguished performer of Kunqu, Yu Zhenfei was most noted for his performance of xiaosheng (young scholar-lover) roles. He also performed in Beijing opera , belonging to troupes headed by such notable performers as Mei Lanfang and Cheng Yanqiu, and was an accomplished player of the dizi, the transverse flute which is so essential to the musical accompaniment of Kunqu. He wrote a treatise on Kunqu acting and several other works.

Yu Zhenfei was the son of the Kunqu specialist Yu Zonghai (1847–1930). After early training, in 1923 he gained a major opportunity when the great dan performer Cheng Yanqiu visited Shanghai and invited him to share the stage with him in the role of the scholar-lover in the centrepiece scene of the famous ‘Peony Pavilion’ (Mudan ting) by Tang Xianzu (...

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